Mission: Changing the Culture of Youth Hockey

There were two principal values that my parents taught my siblings and I growing up:

  1. Be selfless.
  2. Surround yourself with people of high character.

I’ve tried to embrace those values my entire life…and I’m beyond thankful to my parents because the older I have gotten, the more I have appreciated the importance of those values.

Youth hockey, in a lot of places, has gotten away from them.

During the last couple years immersed in the youth hockey culture, I have seen a lot of really awful things.  Just in my area of Upstate New York alone, I have seen:

Kids being held hostage by youth organizations…Organizations suing each other…Organizations blatantly lying to parents while “recruiting” their kid to play for them (this is a pretty common one).

It’s pretty heart-breaking, to say the least…

So the past few months I have been on a mission to try and find the causes to these problems and work on what we can do to fix them.  I’ve spoken to a lot of people I trust around the country…hoping to find answers to help mend what is beginning to look like a broken system.

According to the people I spoke with, the main problems center around the idea that youth hockey has become a business and the pressures that go along with it.

With that, hockey has begun to evolve into a year round, specialized sport that is good for nobody except the people lining their pockets. Organizations are beholden to for-profit rinks that are only about the bottom line.  Coaches are being paid insane amounts of money.  Business (not hockey) people are everywhere selling families on services that aren’t really needed.

But even with all of that craziness going on…the biggest issue attacking the soul of youth hockey is this:

Ego.

Too many adults think they know what is best…And think everyone else is wrong.

So instead of working WITH each other when issues arise, they work to screw each other over and make the issues worse.

The depth of this problem is incredible, especially in Upstate New York.

Which is why I have been working hard to be a part of the solution… A solution that is IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE KIDS.

And I will be joining the Rochester Coalition to coach Midget hockey (15U & 16U) next year.

We are WORKING TOGETHER to provide the kids in Upstate New York an opportunity to grow and help them achieve their hockey dreams (whatever those may be).

I can’t wait to work with Chris Collins and his team.  Chris was a Hobey Baker finalist at Boston College and has been working hard to change the culture of youth hockey in our area.  Like myself…he has been hitting a lot of roadblocks.

But together, we can help provide an awesome opportunity for kids to develop their game, showcase their play, and compete against the top players in our area in practice and the top teams around the country in games.

I AM SO PUMPED!!!

When Chris and I sat down to brainstorm this idea.  There was one question we always went back to:

What will be in the best interest for the kids?

Because at the end of the day, THAT is what it’s all about.  And THAT is how we are going to continue to make our decisions.

How do we change the culture of youth hockey?

We put our egos aside.  We work together.  And we put the interest of the kids first.

By making decisions with those ideals first, we can create positive change.

THAT is what we are committed to do, and I can’t wait to continue working with kids and families in our area on this new opportunity!!